HANG TIME SOUTHWEST — Mark Cuban has long tried to affect NBA officiating. He’s racked up more than $250,000 in fines over the years to prove it.
Now he’s putting his money to a different, perhaps more impactful use. Apparently the Dallas Mavericks owner is as frustrated by professional floppers as the rest of us, so he’s taking the flop to scientific levels. Cuban is teaming up with biomechanics experts at SMU in Dallas “to carry out a scientific study of the unsavory practice of player flopping in basketball and other sports.”
“The issues of collisional forces, balance and control in these types of athletic settings are largely uninvestigated,” said SMU biomechanics expert Peter G. Weyand, who leads the research team, in a release. “There has been a lot of research into balance and falls in the elderly, but relatively little on active adults and athletes.”
Weyand is an associate professor of applied physiology and biomechanics in the SMU Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development and will work with a team of researchers on this project.
Of course, we’ve all seen flopping and continue to see it through the NBA playoffs despite the league’s crackdown this season with its anti-flopping legislation that fined players who were deemed to have flopped — a deliberate act of falling or flailing or recoiling unnecessarily from a nearby opponent, to deceive game officials. As the SMU research team accurately notes: Athletes engage in dramatic flopping to create the illusion of illegal contact, hoping to bait officials into calling undeserved fouls on opponents.
Before Thursday’s Game 1 of the NBA Finals, commissioner David Stern said the league initial fine of $5,000 has not deterred the floppers as hoped and new a set of penalties might be necessary.
The objective of the Cuban-SMU research is to investigate the forces involved in typical basketball collisions:
The researchers will look at how much force is required to cause a legitimate loss of balance. They’ll also examine to what extent players can influence the critical level of force via balance and body control. They will also explore techniques by which the forces involved in collisions might be estimated from video or other motion capture techniques.
The research findings could conceivably contribute to video reviews of flopping and the subsequent assignment of fines, Weyand said. “It may be possible to enhance video reviews by adding a scientific element, but we won’t know this until we have the data from this study in hand.”
There certainly has been plenty of material for the SMU researchers to collect in these playoffs alone, and likely more to come starting with Sunday’s Game 2.
Let the scientific flopping research begin.